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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Santiago: City, Fashion, and Language

It has been about a week since I moved in with my host family. Things are going great and classes start tomorrow although I still don’t really know what I am taking but hopefully I will know by the end of the week.

For the past week I have been having orientation in the morning and then exploring Santiago in the afternoons. So here are some of my first week impressions of Santiago and Chile. First of all, many Chileans keep telling me that in Chile they don’t speak Castellano, (which is what they call Spanish in most of South America because Spanish is associated with Spain) in Chile they speak Chileno. Basically this means that they speak very fast with lots of words and phrases that you will only hear in Chile and you will not learn in a Spanish class. During orientation they taught us a lot of this slang and phrases which I thought was kind of silly but it turns out that those phrases are about 50% of the average person’s vocabulary. I am starting to get used to the phrases and the accent hasn’t been too difficult to understand yet.

The City. Santiago as I learned today is split up into 53 different neighborhoods. It is a huge city with so much variety. There is a mix of architecture here. There is everything from super modern buildings, to beautiful old European looking buildings. Hear is a picture from the plaza downtown that is of a very modern building reflecting the old church across the street.

There are super turisty neighborhoods, cute areas with lots of cafes, streets lined with murals, fancy shopping areas, slums, parks, museums, everything you can think of. I still don’t feel like I have seen much of the city so my mission is to keep exploring. The city is a surprisingly clean city (at least the streets, the air is pretty polluted.) The city is surrounded on all sides by a circle of mountains. There are two different small mountains in the middle of the city that you can go to the top of and see the whole city and the mountains. I have only been to the top of Santa Lucia so far. Here is a picture from the top with some girls from my program and you can see the city and mountains in the background.

Some random observations on some of the styles here. I have seen a lot of fanny packs here. Many people wear them on the front but it is very common to see people wearing fanny packs over their shoulder like a purse. Everywhere I go I see variations on the rat tail, it seems to be very popular. There are people with a single dreadlock coming off the back of their head while the rest is short. Or people with short hair with a braid coming off the side. I also see a lot of hair wraps, sometimes as long as someone’s hair, other times more in the rat tail style. Then there are these awful pants that everyone wears that are the length of peddle pushers but are all scrunched up.

Also, whereas in Venezuela, Peru, and Bolivia I stood out as a foreigner, in Santiago it is actually possible to blend in. I can more or less pass for a Chilean unless I open my mouth to speak, hang out with a large group of gringos, take out my camera, or consult my map. Seeing as I do all those things very often I guess I usually stand out as a gringa. But, the other day I was walking down the street and a woman tried to hand me a flier and said, ¨¿Quieres aprender inglès?¨ So I guess I can blend in occasionally.

This weekend I went to Cajon de Maipo right outside the city and went camping and white water rafting which was amazing. I’ll try to put up a post about it and pictures soon.


At 4:21 AM, March 06, 2006, Blogger Becca said...

Sari- First and foremost I L-O-V-E the picture of the building reflected in the building. Incredible. And secondly, I loved reading about the language politics (or just reality) of Chile which might partially b/c language fascinates me (psst- see my newest blog post) and is certainly partially b/c it simply *is* fascinating. And, of course... I just love being able to read about what you're up to. (P.S.... tapered pants are in here... not so attractive either). Love love! -Becca

At 6:11 PM, March 06, 2006, Blogger Jaimie said...

hey Sari - Talia gave me your blog and i've been reading it, mostly marvelling at the pictures you've been getting. Amazing.

Funny that you mentioned the hairstyles - Talia and I saw tons o' rat tails in Spain. And Mullets. Lots of Mullets. Have you seen mullets?



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